An interview with Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti
Friday, October 9, 2009
Q: Ryan talk about your afternoon out there today?
RYAN BRISCOE: Not bad. Just Dario was really fast. I thought the car was pretty good and we did a great job getting prepared for qualifying. Speed was about where I was expecting it to be. We did a best lap this morning of 12:06 in the draft. And I've got to tell you, I was out there in pit lane watching Dario and I saw him do 12:08, 12:07, 12:07. I was like, where is this coming from? I thought the track must be a lot faster or something. I saw Rahal go out and do high 11s and felt pretty confident that the speed was just going to come to us, and it didn't. So the car felt pretty good. It wasn't just stuck; it was a challenge. I guess we were all thinking the track might get quicker at the end but it looks like it might have gotten slower.
Q: All this build-up to the race and it's finally here, any last-second jitters, nerves going on?
RYAN BRISCOE: For sure. There's been a lot of focus to today on getting the car set up and ready for qualifying. I'm sure tomorrow it will escalate and the nerves and so on, it's definitely a big deal, a huge deal for me.
But I feel ready. I know I've got some very tough competition. The Target guys are way too quick in qualifying, and they are going to be strong in the race. So it's going to be a tough battle, but you know, there's a lot that goes into a good race, and hopefully I can beat them.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our pole winner, his fifth peek pole award of the season, third on an oval, that's Dario Franchitti and with his pole he gains a point on Scott Dixon, now four points behind the leader. Talk about your afternoon out there.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Obviously pretty happy with what we managed to achieve there. We tested here and we were not very -- the ten car side of the team, we were not that great. We found some problems. We came back today, we weren't happy with the balance really, and race trim or qualifying trim, we were a little bit off.
And Chris and Brad and the old engineering group on the Target side just went to work, came up with the setup. It was great. It was the first three laps were damn near perfect as far as the balance of the car. The fourth lap between three and four I had a little slip there, but a great job by the team, and this is one of the tracks that a driver can make a bit of a difference, one of the one-and-a-half-mile tracks that the driver can make a difference, anyway, in qualifying and I was really happy with the job today. To get one point was handy, and tomorrow the hard work begins because Ryan and Scott are right there and there are a few other guys that I watched in practice that looked very, very strong for the race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Before we get to questions, we'll start with Scott Dixon, who will start from the front row for the fourth time this season. Scott, talk about your afternoon out there.
SCOTT DIXON: The morning two sessions were good. It was definitely exciting for me in the qualifying round. I was really, really loose. I think I was turning right more than I was turning left. And then I made the mistake of actually going stiffer on the rear bar, I was reaching for the front and got the rear and that made it even more exciting. Definitely had my hands full. Car was definitely quick. I think we definitely had a shoulder pole and our straight line seemed to be pretty good on the numbers, but obviously not so good through the corner. So all in all I think we are looking strong for tomorrow. It was a huge effort from Team Target and definitely a big congrats to Dario stealing that one point. Nice one. Let's hope it doesn't come down to that tomorrow. But looking forward to it and it's going to be exciting.
Q: We heard the Grand Am guys talk a lot about tire degradation. What do you guys feel, because I've heard from some of your count are parts that you're just having trouble with overall grip, for any kind of long run.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think as hot as it is, No. 1, the cars don't have the aero grip that we have had in the past. So that makes it pretty difficult. And this track has definitely lost grip every year we've come here. So we're asking a lot of the tires, and you've got to keep the balance. You've got to keep the balance in the car. If you get too much understeer, too much over steer in the car, it just gets worse and worse as the run goes on. So it definitely makes it a challenge.
Q: Would you call it an easy flat?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, depends how close you get the car to being perfect.
Q: If I could, if you could comment just very briefly, what happens now, is it this thing go into like a massive planning strategy session into the night and then tomorrow or do things just sort of edge themselves into the race and everybody pretty much knows what's going on or somewhere in the middle?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't know. I hope we don't have a meeting right after this. I wanted to grab some food. It's very easy to overanalyze things and your mind starts running, and it's only going to do worse. For me I'm just going to treat it just like another race. That's what we have been doing all season. It's obvious that there's a lot more on the line but you can't really do anything to change the outcome of that. It's kind of -- most of the planning and the preparation for the cars and things like that have already been done. Tomorrow night might be the person that wins is the one that makes the least mistakes.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the same as Scott. I think a lot of the planning has been done. I'm definitely going to sit and talk with my engineer about the changes we made for qualifying and how it translates into what we are going to do are to the race. We have a meeting in the morning as usual, any race day, actually afternoon because it's a night race and Chip will give us the benefit of his wisdom and we will go from there.
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, yeah, I think as Scott said, you don't want to overanalyze things too much, treat it like any other. I think the difference with this race is going to be towards the end of the race where we will all be figuring out and being told by our strategists what the points look like and what we'll need to do. That's where it will change a little bit. Every race we go to we have our standard meetings, set up work, and just try and go out and be the best guy on the track. So there's no reason to head into this race any differently.
Q: With the championship being so close and every point being so critical, did you place any additional emphasis on qualifying both for the point and the psychological advantage that may go with having the pole?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I haven't placed any extra emphasis on it, there's only the tire allotment that we are given, there's only so much you can do on it. But the extra point that was by no means lost on any of us. I saw Ryan do two qualifying sims the second thing today, so everybody is pushing pretty hard.
RYAN BRISCOE: I think the point was maybe most important to me out of the three of us. We certainly put a lot of focus into it but you can only do so much, and we may have I think done an extra run in P2 today, just trying to get the confidence and be where we needed to be. But you know, at the same time, still in that session, we tried to do race set up work because that's really where it's going to count.
Q: Scott, for you, was there any with the extra point?
SCOTT DIXON: Our plan was the same as Dario's, and I think you have to be quite careful on the amount of the tires you use. Really, qualifying being the tires are good for about the four or five laps that you do and then you kind of start chasing grip levels that you typically are going to have for a race. It is very hard to do a lot of concentration on just qualifying stuff.
Q: Do you have any update with Helio's mechanical failure and any concerns this might be a carry over problem?
SCOTT DIXON: I was told it's nothing I need to worry about on my car, and I know that they will try and figure it out. I thought that was just to make me feel good going into qualifying. I have full confidence we will work it out, and they did a fantastic job getting him out for qualifying today. So you know, there's a big investigation going on. Hopefully it doesn't happen again.
Q: Normally the money, you get a big check and it looks all snazzy but it really was about the point today; the $10,000 doesn't mean much if the point is the difference in the championship.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I can only speak for Dixie and myself, I'm from Scotland and he's a Kiwi. So it's all about the money. No, the point was big today. The point was a big deal, and yeah, as I said, full marks to my boys for going out and doing what we needed to do to get it.